Planning for the Future

August 16, 1870


Since the end of the war, Richmond has developed through enterprise and infrastructure, including agriculture, manufacturing, railroads, and steamships. Policy creation and Richmond's future encompassing of Manchester will also be significant in Richmond's development commercially.


There are to be great operations and extensive enterprise in and about this locality in a few years, and it will be well for our people if they school themselves into the habit of looking ahead and forecasting the situation, which will require many new arrangements and a considerable expansion of scope and verge for the actions and adventures of men. We invite the attention especlally of young men to this interesting subject. Already there is a considerable extension and growth of this city. There are men prone to look on the dark side who never see anything encouraging about them. But let any man of observant disposition and calm judgment take a review of Richmond and its surrounding territory, he will inevitably come to the conclusion that there has been a great improvement since the war. There are more well cultivated small farms, and the former ragged ends of streets are dressed up and show decidedly more clean liness and thrift. Now, if with all the depressing influences which have borne upon this city there has been increase and improvement, what may we not look for when the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad is finished, and our straight road to Lynchburg is in operation? There will be that kind of commerce and manufacturing enterprise that will require a great deal more of area, and much addition to the accommodation of maritime trade. Look at Richmond where she is seated upon the James river, which is her boundary. The centre of her business is upon the shore of that river, and is therefore deprived of its proper circumference. This is a great, inconvenience to the business of the city. That men, in their living and their coming and going should enjoy the greatest convenience in the pursuit of their avocations, they should have the advantage of communication in all directions from the centre of their occupation. Therefore Manchester ought to be not only included as a part of Richmond, but access to it ought to be free and unobstructed. The river should be spanned by at least two free bridges, and they should be traversed by street railroads, and should be lighted so as that they would be safe and refreshing promenades, and the social and business intercourse between the two sides of the river should be entirely intimate and active. What a field for operations and for speculation is presented in the fair landscape on the south side of James river. Throw it into Richmond, and a fresh and added energy will contribute to her prosperity, and increase the value of her property as well the extent of her business. In our maratime enterprises we want more accommodation. We want wharfage ; we want facilities for the delivery of railroad freights and for the transfer of through freights'. To afford these as they are demanded will require that our people and our public authorities shall take a liberal view of things and act promptly. These are interesting topics. We invite the reader to think of them, and to ascend the most elevated of our hills occasionally, and therefrom take a view of the situation. It is intensely interesting. The active and sagacious mind can readily see how the grand scenes around him may be peopled with an enterprising population, and animated with the liveliest signs of thrift and industry. Nor will it fail to discover the means whereby this scene may be brought about. Certainly, the picture will never be filled out unless our people adopt the proper policy that is required. The limits of Richmond must be extended soon. The longer it is postponed the more difficult will be its accomplishment. We must look about at once to all these matters. We must begin soon to prepare for what is to come. The more the subject is: considered the belter it will be understood, and we earnestly urge it upon the attention of the citizens - especially upon the enterprising young men, merchants and others. Let us all elevate ourselves to the height of the argument of the next grand chapter in the history of Richmond. She has had her share of calamities ; it is time she had her day of prosperity, and it is near at hand.
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Bryce Smith




“Planning for the Future,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed August 8, 2022,